With the drought here in the Golden State keeping a parched dry grip on the land, firefighters are likely to be kept busy this summer. This weekend I’m going to spend some time getting “fire ready” if you will. Important papers are going to put in boxes easily accessible to the car and family pictures either stored digitally or packed away in boxes in the garage. I don’t believe one should summon disaster, however not looking it in the eye isn’t a good plan either.
Recently we had a fireman in our area get badly wounded falling through the roof of a fully engulfed home, accenting once again what a dangerous job they do. Fire, as I’m sure most sane people, terrifies me. I can’t think of a more unpleasant pursuer and find these men and women who sign up to do battle with it really courageous.
My first experience with a fire station was when I was five. A different world back then. Children played outside unattended, seat belts in cars a thing of the future, and if one ran an errand in the store leaving a child for five minutes without supervision wasn’t out of the ordinary.
Halifax, Nova Scotia where I made my home at the time had a small town feel in spite of being the capital of the Province. When walking down the street people nodded and pleasantries were exchanged. Neighbor watched out for neighbor, and crime, at the time, wasn’t the main source of news.
Both my grandfather and two of my uncles chose to pursue the medical profession. My grandfather and his son, my Uncle Gordon, were both urologists and shared a practice. To add to the medical mix, my grandmother was an RN and my aunt’s husband a pediatrician so when one of us kids sneezed I guarantee it didn’t go unnoticed. So much cod liver oil was shoved down my throat I’m surprised I didn’t sprout gills.
Living in a house with my mother and two grandparents in attendance I didn’t lack for attention. Both my grandfather and Gordon held to the practice of house calls. Nowadays this seems absurd the thought of a doctor coming to your house, but back then it was what a physician did. Often this was to geriatric patients, but certainly not limited to them as they visited patients of all ages. On a day when Gordon was heading out to see patients I asked to tag along. My mother and grandmother were not totally excited about the prospect but Gordon, feeling I was a bit overprotected, suggested it might be a good idea. Off we went in his black car with me seated next to him on the bench seat carrying my stuffed dog.
At several houses I went in, but being five the excitement waned quickly and before reaching the next residence I’d curled up in the front seat and gone to sleep. Covering me with his jacket Gordon went in to see his patient leaving me in the car with the doors locked and the windows cracked. Waking up to find myself alone I began to cry. A resourceful little kid I figured out the door lock and let myself out of the car. Standing in front of a long bank of houses I had no idea which one Gordon had gone into.
Tears dripping down my face I walked along the street dragging my furry dog behind me. Shortly a very tall man, well to my perspective at least, bent over to ask what was wrong. Nowadays this would produce an Amber Alert, but back then he was being kind. Explaining I was lost and would like my lunch, he took my hand and said he would help. Down the street we walked and around the corner. At the fire station we stopped and went in. As it turned out he was off duty but this was where he hung hat, if you will, while working.
I was thrilled. In the middle of the large room were two huge red fire trucks, one of which I was set upon. A small fire hat was popped on my head and questions thrown my direction about where I lived and my name. Sensing I was most likely in trouble at this point, I suggested I would spill the beans for a two scoop ice cream cone which came my way after being shown the inside of the truck. While enjoying it I watched a man come down the fire pole and heard the siren roar.
All in all it was an exciting day for this little girl. My uncle, not so much. He had to explain to my grandmother and mother he had somehow misplaced me along his route. This news was not well received. Police had been alerted and once my ice cream had been consumed I became tired. The information requested was given up. A police car picked me up and dropped me off in the arms of my worried family. The usual lecture ensued and I was sent to bed without dinner. At intervals during the evening both my mother and grandmother showed up with a plate of food so the lesson wasn’t entirely a difficult one.
These oranges are so pretty on the plate and taste delicious. I serve them with a wedge of chocolate or pound cake or a scoop of vanilla ice cream or both. Yummy.
4 large navel oranges, peeled
3 cups champagne
1 1/2 cups orange juice (no pulp)
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole allspice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 cup sliced orange peel
Peel oranges reserving 1/8 cup of orange peel sliced thin. Using a sharp knife cut between the sections in each orange being sure not to cut all the way through to the bottom.
In deep sauce pan add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Add oranges and continue cooking for 6 mins. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place in deep bowl in refrigerator covered for 24 hours. Serve with sauce.